Stream anything to any device over a home network "catch-all" thread.

That is crazy. I guess I have to up my game!

My little project was put on hold for a few days thanks to a plethora of bacteria and viruses floating around the house, but I got back at it today.

I first tried to rip Frozen, but got a reading error. No biggie, this disc already had flare-ups while playing in my PS4. The Lion King ripped without a hitch, so I installed the Plex Server on the laptop, did some basic configuration and... it just worked! In the format I ripped it in no less, with options for all spoken and subtitled languages I configured in MakeMKV!

The casting downstairs through the Chromecast -> receiver -> tv with the iPhone app (and later my wife's Android) went seamlessly as well. Okay, a bit of stuttering at first, but that's because the laptop/Plex server is still running on wifi.

Next up, I plugged a HDMI cable to my secondary monitor and set that it doesn't go to sleep when I close the lid - which is apparently really easy in Windows settings. The HDMI cable is juuuuust long enough to make it while hidden under the desk.

Which also means that the laptop now has a fixed place, meaning I can plug it into the LAN.

Next up in the coming days will be some security settings. I don't want Windows update to interrupt the Plex server's workings, but I don't want it to be a security risk either. Ideally, I would be able to shut it off from the Internet completely while keeping the LAN connection. Would setting the proxy to something made up work for this? I still plan to update regularly, but on my schedule, so then I could just turn off the 'proxy' and get to work.

So far, it's going so smoothly that I fear something will implode. I have never had a hobby project go so easily!

Maybe Windows firewall? Add an allow rule for your LAN subnet, and a block for everything else? Should be Google-able.

You'd have to unblock to update, though, but no real difference to undoing a proxy.

Installed plex server on my nas and it went well. Install the plex player on the laptop and app on the tablet. Everything just worked The only downside is you have to pay to be able to do mobile streaming. Not a big problem since I can stream stuff to my mobile devices already.

I'm not sure if the paid version is worth it or not. I can play my music through google or amazon.

I used the mobile streaming a bit when I was in the hospital post surgeries, but aside from that instance I haven't found a real need for it. If I'm mobile I'm probably working/busy in some other way and don't have time to stream anyway.

Plex is great for a home server. The additional media consumption options enabled by paying for the app are nice, but very much a case by case usefulness basis. Either way, five or six bucks for the mobile app isn't horrendous if you decide to try it.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

Installed plex server on my nas and it went well. Install the plex player on the laptop and app on the tablet. Everything just worked The only downside is you have to pay to be able to do mobile streaming. Not a big problem since I can stream stuff to my mobile devices already.

I'm not sure if the paid version is worth it or not. I can play my music through google or amazon.

My main reason for doing paid was to get hardware decoding on my NAS (synology). It's processor wouldn't be fast enough to transcode without it.

Agreed, bighoppa.

My laptop-turned-Plex server hums along just fine, I just need to tweak the security stuff a bit further during the holidays.

One weird 'issue' though: when I try to stream my 1080p content directly to the Chromecast downstairs, there's noticeable lag occurring. When I delve into the Plex options for quality, it says that direct streaming takes 2Mbps bandwith. Other options differ in quality and bandwith requirements and require the Plex server to convert the stream before sending it through. Funnily enough though the option for streaming after conversion in 1080 high quality, which takes 8Mbps bandwith according to the mobile app GUI, works without a hiccup!

This made me suspect it wasn't bandwith-related, but the symptoms really coalesce with the diagnosis, and when I run the movies directly from the server it goes smooth as butter.

Weird, no?

dejanzie wrote:

Agreed, bighoppa.

My laptop-turned-Plex server hums along just fine, I just need to tweak the security stuff a bit further during the holidays.

One weird 'issue' though: when I try to stream my 1080p content directly to the Chromecast downstairs, there's noticeable lag occurring. When I delve into the Plex options for quality, it says that direct streaming takes 2Mbps bandwith. Other options differ in quality and bandwith requirements and require the Plex server to convert the stream before sending it through. Funnily enough though the option for streaming after conversion in 1080 high quality, which takes 8Mbps bandwith according to the mobile app GUI, works without a hiccup!

This made me suspect it wasn't bandwith-related, but the symptoms really coalesce with the diagnosis, and when I run the movies directly from the server it goes smooth as butter.

Weird, no?

I'm guessing 1 of 3 scenarios:
1. Free version does not let you using hardware decoding. In other words not network lag but PC isn't powerful enough to software transcode.
2. You have paid version but haven't enabled hardware decoding in the options.
3. You have paid version but computer doesn't have the appropriate hardware to support decoding.

I'm using the free version, paid Android app. The laptop has an Intel® CoreTM i5-2430M 2,40GHz CPU, 8GB RAM, GeForce 540M. If I run the movies on the laptop itself, there is no lag whatsoever, even with subtitles.

Other thing is: why is it faster to let the Plex server transcode first, instead of streaming it directly in original format? Even when I transcode to the same quality as the original content, the hiccups disappear. Which makes no sense to me.

dejanzie wrote:

I'm using the free version, paid Android app. The laptop has an Intel® CoreTM i5-2430M 2,40GHz CPU, 8GB RAM, GeForce 540M. If I run the movies on the laptop itself, there is no lag whatsoever, even with subtitles.

Other thing is: why is it faster to let the Plex server transcode first, instead of streaming it directly in original format? Even when I transcode to the same quality as the original content, the hiccups disappear. Which makes no sense to me.

I misread your original statement. Are you sure it's still not doing some sort of transcoding? I imagine the Chromecast would be pretty specific in supported formats. The laptop doesn't do any transcoding, when playing locally, so that wouldn't be relevant in troubleshooting. The software / hardware transcoding is done for compatibility on the client devices (Xbox, smart phones, chomecast, ect.)

The other thought that came to mind is that the Chromecast struggles decoding the original compression.

It might be worth starting a stream to the Chromecast, then going into the server settings, pulling up activity, and checking the stream. If you hit the "show details" button, it'll show you exactly what it's doing as far as direct/transcode for audio and video.

Come to think of it, the hiccups start on the smartphone - both on my iPhone or my wife's Android. So before the Chromecast gets involved.

Chaz wrote:

It might be worth starting a stream to the Chromecast, then going into the server settings, pulling up activity, and checking the stream. If you hit the "show details" button, it'll show you exactly what it's doing as far as direct/transcode for audio and video.

I'll do that, thanks.

In the meantime, I'll try to set the default play settings to 'transcoded to 1080HD full quality' to keep the user friendliness up for the missus.

ARISE!

So the old laptop refurbished to Plex server is humming along just fine, and I just occasionally do a Windows Update to keep it safe(r).

For storage, I've been using the 256GB SSD that was still installed. For now that's sufficient, but in the longer term it won't be anymore. Does anyone have experience using an external HD, connected through USB, as the storage device for a Plex server? If it's as easy as buying a xTB HD, plugging it in, moving the library and than rescanning it that would be perfect. But I can imagine issues cropping up with the HD disconnecting when unused for a while or something.

dejanzie wrote:

ARISE!

So the old laptop refurbished to Plex server is humming along just fine, and I just occasionally do a Windows Update to keep it safe(r).

For storage, I've been using the 256GB SSD that was still installed. For now that's sufficient, but in the longer term it won't be anymore. Does anyone have experience using an external HD, connected through USB, as the storage device for a Plex server? If it's as easy as buying a xTB HD, plugging it in, moving the library and than rescanning it that would be perfect. But I can imagine issues cropping up with the HD disconnecting when unused for a while or something.

For Plex, I don't think it'll have different issues than hosting content on a second spinning metal drive - provided it's USB 3+. I have a 2TB drive I keep audio/video content on, and it will park itself and power down if unused for a while. Occasionally it takes a few seconds to spin up when we want to stream from it. That hasn't been any bother.

LouZiffer wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

ARISE!

So the old laptop refurbished to Plex server is humming along just fine, and I just occasionally do a Windows Update to keep it safe(r).

For storage, I've been using the 256GB SSD that was still installed. For now that's sufficient, but in the longer term it won't be anymore. Does anyone have experience using an external HD, connected through USB, as the storage device for a Plex server? If it's as easy as buying a xTB HD, plugging it in, moving the library and than rescanning it that would be perfect. But I can imagine issues cropping up with the HD disconnecting when unused for a while or something.

For Plex, I don't think it'll have different issues than hosting content on a second spinning metal drive - provided it's USB 3+. I have a 2TB drive I keep audio/video content on, and it will park itself and power down if unused for a while. Occasionally it takes a few seconds to spin up when we want to stream from it. That hasn't been any bother.

Thanks! I should check if the 2011 laptop even has USB 3.0 ports, but I think so.

I have done the same at it worked ok. The external drive does go to sleep so it takes a few extra seconds to spin up for the first stream, but the Plex library cache is usually hosted on the main drive so it is the usual browsing speed in the library.

dejanzie wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

ARISE!

So the old laptop refurbished to Plex server is humming along just fine, and I just occasionally do a Windows Update to keep it safe(r).

For storage, I've been using the 256GB SSD that was still installed. For now that's sufficient, but in the longer term it won't be anymore. Does anyone have experience using an external HD, connected through USB, as the storage device for a Plex server? If it's as easy as buying a xTB HD, plugging it in, moving the library and than rescanning it that would be perfect. But I can imagine issues cropping up with the HD disconnecting when unused for a while or something.

For Plex, I don't think it'll have different issues than hosting content on a second spinning metal drive - provided it's USB 3+. I have a 2TB drive I keep audio/video content on, and it will park itself and power down if unused for a while. Occasionally it takes a few seconds to spin up when we want to stream from it. That hasn't been any bother.

Thanks! I should check if the 2011 laptop even has USB 3.0 ports, but I think so.

In truth, you may not even see a difference there with USB 2.0's 60MB/s maximum (or most likely around 40-50MB/s in real world terms) available to you. However, I felt it was worth noting just in case.

Would a WD Elementals Portable suffice? I like that it doesn't need a dedicated power outlet, it keeps my setup energy efficient.

To be clear: we stream a movie a few times a week, and writing operations are even rarer. So I don't think we need a WD Red or something.

dejanzie wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

ARISE!

So the old laptop refurbished to Plex server is humming along just fine, and I just occasionally do a Windows Update to keep it safe(r).

For storage, I've been using the 256GB SSD that was still installed. For now that's sufficient, but in the longer term it won't be anymore. Does anyone have experience using an external HD, connected through USB, as the storage device for a Plex server? If it's as easy as buying a xTB HD, plugging it in, moving the library and than rescanning it that would be perfect. But I can imagine issues cropping up with the HD disconnecting when unused for a while or something.

For Plex, I don't think it'll have different issues than hosting content on a second spinning metal drive - provided it's USB 3+. I have a 2TB drive I keep audio/video content on, and it will park itself and power down if unused for a while. Occasionally it takes a few seconds to spin up when we want to stream from it. That hasn't been any bother.

Thanks! I should check if the 2011 laptop even has USB 3.0 ports, but I think so.

I'm hosting my media files on a USB 2 hard drive, connected to a Raspberry Pi, shared with Samba, and I have zero issue streaming a 1080p video from it (I use Kodi, but I tried Plex at some point and it was fine with that setup as well).

I found a promo on a WD Elementals 4TB, so I bit the bullet. All went as smooth as one can hope: just copied the movies to the drive, checked if everything worked out and then deleted the media from the main drive. I haven't noticed any additional latency, I presume by the time the network connection is established the USB drive has woken up too.

Now I'll probably put our kid's music on there too, since I moved from Google Music to Spotify our local library isn't mixed with the cloud one anymore. So we're missing some Flemish kids artists that aren't on streaming services right now.

Thanks everyone for the quick and efficient advice/reassurances!